Thursday 30 April 2020

Homeschool Science for All Ages

by Nick Gisburne

You cannot stir a kitten with a spoon
It doesn’t come with buttons, it’s a sheep
There isn’t any custard on the moon
A bag of sunlight? Very, very cheap
I’m pretty sure the internet is wrong
Just poke it in the flipper with a pen
Your magnets may be sticky or too strong
We need to turn it off and on again
Is that a proper radiation suit?
I need to know what turned your brother brown
Just tell me why I need a parachute
And why is this contraption counting down?
    It’s time for adult science to begin:
    A darkened room and half a pint of gin

A Sordid Little Secret

by Nick Gisburne

Our sordid little secret is undone
They saw us there, together, on the moors
They don’t believe we do it just for fun
And now they talk of therapy and cures
The burden on our families is real
It damages their dignity and pride
They say they cannot fathom how we feel
They wonder how our innocence has died
Together now, we rise to make a stand
To celebrate the life we choose to live
A statement to the world was never planned
But honesty is all we have to give
    We choose to wear a deeper, darker cloth
    Accept us as you see us. We are goth

Wednesday 29 April 2020

The Song of the Siren

by Nick Gisburne

Her songs are rich and sensual and raw
They flow and fade, seducing every sense
The mesmerising rhythms swirl and soar
They writhe along the walls of my defence
The music melts the shadows of my soul
I see it, sliding, surging through my chest
It drains the heart, which hungers to be whole
Surrendered to her songs, I am possessed
She tastes her lips and burns me with their lies
They drip with passion, promises and pain
And through the dreams of evil in her eyes
I see a face, my own, a man insane
    She sings, a breathless whisper, stained with sin
    And rips the strangled spirit from my skin

Assassination School

by Nick Gisburne

The infamous Assassination School
They teach us how to kill and how to die
Obedient, we follow every rule
We question nothing, punished if we try
Relentless dedication makes me strong
Effective, deadly, even as a child
I understand my place, where I belong
By fear or doubt my days are not defiled
Today is not the time to reminisce
Today we will begin our final test
The years of training, all have come to this
The chance to prove I stand among the best
    The mission: kill the others in my class
    The one who stands alone, alone will pass

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Stolen Tears

by Nick Gisburne

They snatch her from the palace in the night
The tiny princess, kidnapped from her bed
Without her joy the land has lost its light
The people soon believe that she is dead
Her magic is a rare and royal kind
A precious gift, more subtle than a sigh
The tears of any princess cure the blind
As surely as the sunrise lights the sky
The callous captors interrupt her sleep
They terrorise her young and fragile heart
To steal her tears they make the princess weep
They plague her as her spirit falls apart
    And on the day her stolen tears run dry
    She bows her head in darkness, blind, to die

Sunday 26 April 2020

Little Bo Bleep

by Nick Gisburne

Oh, Jesus fucking Christ! I’ve lost my sheep!
They fuck off every time I look away
And counting them? I fucking fall asleep
It happens to me every fucking day
The bleating bastards, stupid fucking cunts
The motherfuckers won’t stay fucking still
Just woolly fucking arseholes, doing stunts
They never fucking learn and never will
I’ve got the fucking oven on – I’m done
They’re fucking dead, the brainless little shits
I’m off to buy a massive fucking gun
To shoot the fluffy fuckers in the tits
    You think I’m fucking mad? I fucking am
    Come here, you cunts! I want some fucking lamb!

Jack and Jill and Bo

by Nick Gisburne

When Jack and Jill grew up they had a child
And took her to the legendary hill
A little light nostalgia, something mild
Perhaps they’d find another pail to fill?
The water, sold in bottles, wasn’t cheap
And Rent-a-Bucket folded long ago
But Bo, their little girl, had brought her sheep
Which scattered as the water failed to flow
So Jack and Jill pulled AR-45s
And shot the water seller in the head
They chopped him into pieces with their knives
The vinegar and paper dealers? Dead
    Poor Jack and Jill went up before the judge
    And all because they couldn’t mend a grudge

Friday 24 April 2020


by Nick Gisburne

The time has come to terminate your debt
Our covenant is cancelled, null and void
You foolishly ignored my final threat
It mentioned how your life would be destroyed
The purpose of my visit should be clear
You’ll understand the details as you die
I see you’re well acquainted now with fear
A sample of the service I supply
Within you, every nerve becomes a string
To pull the screaming puppet of your brain
And I shall make you dance, and leap, and sing
Until these hands release you from your pain
    Your name will be destroyed when I am done
    But I will not forget you were my son

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Government Guidelines: Waste Disposal

by Nick Gisburne

Your final claim for mercy is denied
No further application can be made
The euthanising service we provide
Will verify the slaughter fees are paid
Your husband should be tethered to the roof
Disposal Unit Five will be deployed
Unless your pod is radiation-proof
The property will also be destroyed
Deductions for refusal to comply
Exceed the total credits you possess
Executive directives now apply
You have no legal means to seek redress
    Please read the list of freedoms you must waive
    Be vigilant. Be dutiful. Behave.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

A Legion of Limericks: Tenth Cohort

by Nick Gisburne

By the smouldering garrison wall
What remains of our soldiers still crawl
Something skinned them alive
And although they survive
They must scream with no faces at all

As the whimpering millions fled
To the beaches their children were led
Slain for sport in the sand
At the tyrant’s command
While he bathed in their blood as they bled

With the hideous hatching complete
There was hunger for succulent meat
Human bodies, alive
Kept as food for the hive
Sick and screaming, but tender and sweet

Taking vows on the shore of the lake
Solemn promises neither must break
Each was given the gift
Of an ending made swift
With the venomous bite of a snake

See my enemies kneel at my feet
How they grovel, accepting defeat
All their deaths will be slow
As they suffer I’ll know
That my vengeance at last is complete

I’ve decided to kill you tonight
Are you planning to put up a fight?
While you lie in your bed
I will sever your head
And the chances I’ll spare you are slight

In the bio-mesh nutrient tank
I injected some cells for a prank
Tell me how could I know
Such a monster would grow?
So for doomsday it’s me you should thank

My emotions are chained in a cage
They are fighting to fit on this page
I was cheering for hope
But it’s dead, on a rope
And the winner, as always, is rage

“Oh, Rapunzel”, the sorceress said
“Let your hair down, I’ve brought you some bread”
But the girl, now insane
Flung not only her mane
For it fell to the rocks with her head

I have often uneasily wondered
If the ghosts of the lands I have plundered
Could return to the past
Would they kill me at last?
Maybe not – I have lived to a hundred

Monday 20 April 2020

A Legion of Limericks: Ninth Cohort

by Nick Gisburne

There was no one to open the doors
To the round of robotic applause
Though the humans were dead
It could always be said
That the planet was rid of its wars

O’er the bridge of unspeakable cost
To depravity countless have crossed
Those who settle the price
For extravagant vice
In its poisonous pleasures are lost

As I witness the world at my feet
And its carpet of cruel deceit
My suspicions, my fear
Though unfounded, unclear
Are the doubts I can never defeat

We were struck by the surge of the sea
But the captain sang show tunes with glee
“Let us battle the waves
To our watery graves
But to sink without song isn’t me!”

Though my colleague is very ambitious
I am ruthlessly cunning and vicious
So to get the promotion
I’ve slipped him a potion
And hope the police aren’t suspicious

Dashing into the bank in a flash
I ran out with a bag full of cash
But without a disguise
I was caught, no surprise:
Massive ears and a ginger moustache

Though they call her the Goddess of Lust
She is covered in ashes and dust
So allergic to friction
A damning affliction
She burns at the tiniest thrust

He is Satan, Destroyer of Kings
Fear the infinite evil he brings
But his merciless flight
Was abandoned tonight
While he washes and waxes his wings

Baby dragons who cry for their cream
Simmer softly, surrounded by steam
Though they gargle with milk
In pyjamas of silk
They are never as sweet as they seem

He is truly, undoubtedly dead
There are clues in the halves of his head
One’s impaled on a spike
Through the other a pike
So he’s probably staying in bed

Sunday 19 April 2020


by Nick Gisburne

She draws upon the canvas with a stick
A clumsy daub, an awkward, trembling hand
The slathered paint is milky, rich and thick
She struggles, but can barely understand
Her failure is too blatant to ignore
The canvas is removed, dismissed, destroyed
Her eyes, disheartened, scan the filthy floor
They fill with tears, bewildered, vacant, void
The apathetic handler rates her skill
But does not see the flash of flair he seeks
He hurls the dish of cold, synthetic swill
And silencing her whimpering he speaks
    “Robotic human hybrid three-two-eight
    Assessment: case rejected. Terminate”

Remember This

by Nick Gisburne

The light of life will flicker, fade, and die
And from the darkness nothing may return
A time to mourn, to grieve, to say goodbye
But always, locked within, a flame will burn
If words were left unsaid, do not regret
A moment missed was never yours to share
Embrace the love your heart will not forget
The priceless, precious times when you were there
The years, the days, the memories, all true
Remember them with gladness in your heart
For what you meant to them and they to you
Remember what no time can tear apart
    The life, but not the memory, has passed
    Remember this, until you fade at last

Saturday 18 April 2020

A Legion of Limericks: Eighth Cohort

by Nick Gisburne

With a knife I must sever my brain
And with this you will know I am sane
Driven once through each ear
It will free me from fear
And I think I will relish the pain

There are fish in the front of the van
And they’re driving as fast as they can
They have taken a breath
To escape from their death
In the hazardous heat of the pan

When the Empress of Evil was four
She discovered a corpse on the floor
But the rumours soon spread
That she cut off the head
And was clapping and calling for more

See the pandas eat pancakes in bed
As they study their plans for a shed
Though they’re black and they’re white
They’re upholding their right
For a palace in purple or red

At the edge of fermentable space
Lives a rakish, bohemian race
With their seven mile suits
And tyrannosaur boots
No designer can keep up the pace

In the shadows there shivered a mouse
Who had recently purchased a house
When he found but a hole
In a cellar of coal
He was quickly disowned by his spouse

In the tourney a bachelor knight
Found his armour was overly tight
Though he won the maid’s heart
It constricted his part
So their chances for jousting were slight

Said the girl with the dangerous eyes
“You’re the arrogant scum I despise
In your efforts to breed
You will never succeed
But for bullshit this finger’s the prize”

It erupts from the damnable deeps
To devour her dreams as she sleeps
But at midnight she wakes
As her sanity breaks
From the window, still screaming, she leaps

On the shores of an amethyst ocean
I partake of a decadent potion
Through its visions I gaze
On the end of all days
And to darkness I give my devotion

A Legion of Limericks: Seventh (Surreal) Cohort

by Nick Gisburne

In the land of the buttercream snow
Where peculiar custard cakes grow
It’s a mystery why
There’s a marmalade sky
When the gingerbread harvest is slow

When the Lords of Insomnia sing
It’s a frenzied and frightening thing
Every glistening voice
Is delivered by choice
In a basket of cinnamon string

Older coconuts commonly cry
From a blinkered binocular eye
As the milk sap runs deep
They abandon their sheep
With a tainted but tearful goodbye

I am fearful my mind may combust
If I carelessly kindle its crust
Weeping demons, all drenched
Wander freely, unquenched
In its sorrowful circle of dust

In a future where flowers all freeze
In a pitiful pact with the trees
As the moon birds bring frost
And the sun salt is lost
We will ride on a lavender breeze

He was painting his wisdom with cream
When the middle years started to scream
Though they pedalled through time
Soon a caramel chime
Sent their bicycles back to the dream

From the jasmine I long to be free
But the angels of ice hold the key
I have pleaded, in vain
But the blossoming chain
Drags the stem of my soul to the sea

There was fear in the strawberry stars
For the blueberries orbiting Mars
But the spiders took flight
Through the skin of the night
By preserving their judgement in jars

We destroyed the mechanical cheese
Smashed the whispering windmills with ease
But the grimacing goat
In its liquorice boat
Raised an army of marzipan bees

When the seasonings came to their senses
They had breached the lasagne’s defences
From the ruins of meat
Tiny pasta-shell feet
Held a meeting to claim their expenses

Friday 17 April 2020

A Legion of Limericks: Sixth Cohort

by Nick Gisburne

There are body parts stored in the freezer
I am partial to brisket of geezer
I will roast him with quince
Though my girlfriend may wince
On her diet it’s tricky to please her

Of our garden the neighbours were jealous
And decided to come round and tell us
“What a wonderful tree
We have seventy-three”
Which is nice, but a tad overzealous

While it’s roasting, a body will burn
If you don’t give the carcass a turn
For the tenderest taste
Always frequently baste
It’s a talent we cannibals learn

He was mocking the state of our schools
Said our children were penniless fools
This contemptuous toff
Was unable to scoff
When we severed his family jewels

She had spent her life vainly imploring
That her husband should silence his snoring
But at last there was peace
For the snoring did cease
When she buried him under the flooring

On a rooftop the young man is slumped
Life’s a puzzle, by which he is stumped
As he crawls to the ledge
And looks down from the edge
In his mind he has already jumped

In a dying, dystopian land
Where all thought and all reason is banned
On the flag: stars and snakes
Golden promises: fakes
And the dream bleeds away in the sand

An impossible, infinite scream
Rips the ravaged remains of a dream
Eyes of terror burn blind
As a crucified mind
Builds a monstrous, malevolent scheme

As the creature releases a moan
It may curdle the blood to the bone
To its primitive cry
Comes a haunting reply
“Will you please take your eyes off that phone!”

If his face seems a little irate
That’s because he is seven days late
It’s a serious crime
But the very next time
Santa swears he’ll remember the date

How to Write a Limerick

If you look at my recent posts you’ll see I recently went from writing ‘nothing but sonnets’ to ‘nothing but limericks’. That’s little more than finding what I enjoy doing and sticking with it until something else catches my interest. Right now I’m writing limericks simply because I’m having a lot of fun doing it. I find them easy to write, which is why I’ve been writing 10 of them every day. So it should be easy to explain how to write a limerick, shouldn’t it? Famous last words!

I’m going to use this one as an example:

    In a shower of shimmering lights
    She descends from the heavenly heights
    So angelic, so pure
    Such a dazzling allure
    But there’s quite a big hole in her tights

The number of syllables is 9-9-6-6-9, and the rhyming scheme is AABBA, which simply means all the ‘A lines’ (first line, second line, last line) rhyme, and all the ‘B lines’ (third and fourth lines) rhyme.

When I was writing sonnets I regularly woke up thinking in lines of 10 syllables! Now I’m in the middle of my ‘limerick affliction’ it’s down to 9 and 6, with a completely different rhythm. The most mundane things will suddenly pop into my head:

    When I look at the carrier bag
    There’s a photograph there of a dog
    See the battery left on the floor
    What’s the time, am I ready to eat?

That was just after a quick look around the room. If I move over to haiku at some point it will no doubt change again. With haiku, I used to regularly count every syllable (5-7-5) on my fingers, but the rhythm of a limerick is easy to ‘do’ in my head:

    In the mountains of deepest Nepal

    da-da-DAH da-da-DAH da-da-DAH
    da-da-DAH da-da-DAH da-da-DAH
    da-da-DAH da-da-DAH
    da-da-DAH da-da-DAH
    da-da-DAH da-da-DAH da-da-DAH

Although sometimes the longer lines have 10 beats, which goes:

    There's a mountain range up in Kentucky
    da-da-DAH da-da-DAH da-da DAH-da

These variations are the ones I'm most comfortable with, but the ‘standard’ limerick is this:

    There was an old man from Nantucket
    da-DAH da-da-DAH da-da DAH-da


    There was an old lady from Rome
    da-DAH da-da-DAH da-da-DAH

You Need to Metre

The most important thing to remember is not the rhyme, which is easy (if it rhymes you know it), and not even the number of syllables (which you can count). No, it’s the metre, always the metre. That’s really the rhythm of the poem, and comes from the pattern of syllables, which can be short or long, stressed or unstressed. If you get that wrong, a limerick, or in fact any poem, won’t trip off the tongue – instead, it will walk into a wall!

In my examples above, ‘da’ is unstressed, ‘DAH’ is stressed. The simple way to remember it is to imagine the actual words are capitalised:

    In the mountains of deepest Nepal

    da-da-DAH da-da-DAH da-da-DAH

    In the MOUNTtains of DEEPest NePAL

‘Mountain’ works there, as do ‘deepest’ and ‘Nepal’, because they are 2-syllable words with stresses where I’ve shown them. If you replace those words with 2-syllable words where the stresses are in different places you’ll see the rhythm is immediately lost:

    In the lagoons of serene Venice

Same number of syllables, but those words do not work at all. You cannot read that in this way:

    In the LAGoons of SERene VenICE

The words are actually stressed as follows:

    In the lagOONS of serENE VENice

And that simply won’t work for a limerick. That really is all you need to remember about the form of the limerick. Get the rhyme and the rhythm working and you’re halfway there.

What About the Story?

Halfway? The other half is of course the story you want to tell. I can’t give you much advice about that because the weird (dis)connections in my brain are what lead me to my finished poems. But I can tell you one of the ways I will create a limerick, using the example I showed earlier:

    In a shower of shimmering lights
    She descends from the heavenly heights
    So angelic, so pure
    Such a dazzling allure
    But there’s quite a big hole in her tights

The way I create most of my limericks is this: I think of a first line, which gives me a general idea of the subject, then I think of a ridiculous last line, and lastly I fill in everything between.

To get my first line I often go to the ‘Daily Deviations’ or ‘Undiscovered’ sections of DeviantArt and just browse around, waiting for something to catch my eye. Or I may generate some random words. If no idea presents itself, I go to the next image or word list. Eventually something will happen. The spark of an idea will form, and that will give me my first line:

    In a shower of shimmering lights

That was, as I remember, a picture of a beautiful woman surrounded by (you guessed it) shimmering lights. So now I’m writing about a woman (who later becomes an angel), who is beautiful and glamorous. In a limerick the last line will reverse all that, drop the glamour and add a punchline.

I don’t know what’s going to fit there, but I do know I need a rhyme for ‘lights’, so I look for that in the rhyming dictionary whose praises I endlessly sing – Rhymezone:

There are plenty of rhyming words for ‘lights’, but the page highlights the most common ones, which is where I usually look first:

    bites, cites, heights, nights, rights, sights, sites, tights, whites

What immediately strikes me is ‘tights’. She’s a glamorous woman, but she has a hole in her tights. It’s as simple as that. I have a last line, the punchline to the scene:

    But there’s quite a big hole in her tights

Now it’s just a case of writing 3 more lines to build her up, up, up, so that the verbal pratfall at the end leaps out at you.

Hitting the Rhymezone Hard

‘Heights’ is another rhyme, so I thought of ‘heavenly heights’. Maybe this is now an angel:

    She descends from the heavenly heights

Here’s another thing I do when I’m writing poetry: I think of the end of the line before I know what I’m doing with the beginning, so I write it down before I forget it. So with that line I might have thought ‘heavenly heights fits’ and I want her to, er, fall down? Doesn’t fit... no other ideas... let’s just get the end of the line in and worry about the start of it later:

    She xxx the heavenly heights

Every x marks a syllable I need to fill. I also know the rhyme scheme is making me put da-DAH-da there.

My choice of words is dictated by the metre (see above), and yes, Rhymezone does let you display only words which fit the metre you need! I might want a 3-syllable word with the metre da-da-DAH, and I can find it. If it was DAH-da-da, or da-DAH-da (as here), that’s also possible. For rhyming poetry with metre, which is what I write, this is a priceless tool.

I initially though of ‘fall’ so I can put that in to find a synonym or related word, with 3 syllables, restricted to x/x (Rhymezone’s equivalent of da-DAH-da). I still don’t find one. But am I looking for one word, or do I need two? Does she fall from the heavenly heights? Small change:

    She xx from the heavenly heights

I could use ‘falls down’ here and it would fit. But if there’s a single word, a better word, I’d rather use it. I need a 2-syllable word for ‘fall’, with a metre of ‘da-DAH’. I put that in, and high on the list is ‘descend’. Perfect:

    She descends from the heavenly heights

Just the ‘short lines in the middle’ to go. The method is the same. I’m describing a beautiful angel, so at some point I found ‘pure’ and ‘allure’. To get there I might have put a few different words into the Rhymezone search, found their synonyms, and eventually discovered a couple of words which rhyme and which appeal to me (all very subjective). Here are the completed lines:

    So angelic, so pure
    Such a dazzling allure

I often think of a word but know it’s boring, so the synonym lookup is useful for that. If I thought of ‘shiny’ I could then find ‘dazzling’, which is a far better word here.

I do want to emphasise that if a word looks like it isn’t good enough (too bland, perhaps), there are probably many other words which can be used instead. Synonyms, related words, rhymes which lead to a different meaning altogether, are all part of the process. If you change the word at the end of the line, of course, you are going to need to make sure your rhymes are all intact.

I should also mention alliteration, which for any humorous poem is something you cannot ignore. That is, two or more words, side by side, beginning with the same letter/sound. Decide which one is better:

    Shower of shimmering lights
    Shower of glittering lights

I hope you picked the first one. Similarly ‘heavenly heights’ is alliterative. It’s pleasing to the senses when you recite it. Why? It just is. Don’t question the magic!

So, with those 3 additional lines, it’s done. That’s the whole limerick. Here it is once more:

    In a shower of shimmering lights
    She descends from the heavenly heights
    So angelic, so pure
    Such a dazzling allure
    But there’s quite a big hole in her tights


Straightforward? I like to think so. I’ve gone to great lengths to describe things in detail, but basically you just need to make your poem rhyme, make it fit the metre, and make it fun. It can be a time-consuming process, and sometimes it’s not easy to produce something you’re happy with, but as with many things, the work you put in makes the end result all the more satisfying.

So let me try one more, completely improvised for this journal:

    If a limerick you will be writing
    Try to make it sound really exciting
    If you can’t tell a tale
    And you think you may fail
    Add a rude little word or some fighting

That took me 2 minutes from start to finish... perhaps it shows!

Remember that you can use these same guidelines for writing any other poetic form, so long as it has metre and rhyme.

Good luck!

Thursday 16 April 2020

A Legion of Limericks: Fifth Cohort

by Nick Gisburne

In a future with nowhere to hide
With the mechanoids marching outside
Hear the minister preach
With his digital speech
“Do you take this machine as your bride?”

There’s a laser sight trained on my head
If I say the wrong thing I’ll be dead
These are dangerous days
But I steady my gaze
“I need toilet rolls, coffee and bread”

He is master of all he surveys
His are dark and mysterious ways
Soulless eyes, cold and blank
But he works in a bank
So the bondage gear may be a phase

Bolting bank robbers quickly discuss
How to flee with the minimum fuss
There’s no getaway car
And the walk is too far
So they’re waiting outside for a bus

Lo! The Orb of  Primordial Power!
From its heart a great evil will flower
Those who use this device
Pay a terrible price
But for you I’ll do cash, by the hour

She is building a tomb in the garden
And she waits for the concrete to harden
The original plan
Was to cherish her man
But he farted and wouldn’t say pardon

There’s a unicorn stuck on my roof
And it’s phoning for help with its hoof
It’s a strange SOS
For a beast in distress
And it’s sending a selfie as proof

In a shower of shimmering lights
She descends from the heavenly heights
So angelic, so pure
Such a dazzling allure
But there’s quite a big hole in her tights

Though your beauty may falter and fade
Tread the pathways of life unafraid
Signs of age become clear
But there’s nothing to fear
You can still sue the surgeon you paid

Well I could not believe my good luck
When she told me how well she could suck
Having eased it inside
She took evident pride
As she bent for a final good flushing of the drains, after successfully pumping out all the muck

Wednesday 15 April 2020

A Legion of Limericks: Fourth Cohort

by Nick Gisburne

I am trapped in an echo in time
In an echo... an echo in time
In an echo... echo
Echo... echo... echo
In an echo in time... in time... time

When the candidate lost his protection
From an intimate viral infection
He was banned from the vote
When the hospital wrote
“No more polling and no more election”

As the two-headed troll pushed the pace
All his cherry-cheeked chums cheered the chase
With a pulse-popping pedal
He bagged the blue medal
A satisfied smile on each face

My bleary-eyed four-year-old daughter
Had sneaked down the stairs but I caught her
She’s a wonderful kid
But the last time she did
She covered the carpets in water

There’s a tentacled beast in my bath
And another with horns on the path
But it’s hard to complain
When these monsters have slain
All the rest of my race with their wrath

See the hover jet speed through the city
And its pilot, outrageously witty
See the fear in her eyes
As she crashes and dies
And the pulp of the pieces, so pretty

See the sacred and sanctified rock
Where the souls of our forefathers flock
In this mystical light
Feel its towering might
And from here it looks just like a cock

At the heart of this festering tomb
In the sulphurous, shadowy gloom
Squats a skeletal child
Feral, filthy and wild
Who refuses to tidy his room

She remembered when others forgot
They abandoned us, but she did not
She was thoughtful and kind
And the day she went blind
She was useless and had to be shot

He was certain he’d witnessed a ghost
In a spooky old house on the coast
“Was it greyish and dead?”
“No, more brownish, like bread
Do I get the reward if it’s toast?”

Monday 13 April 2020

A Legion of Limericks: Third Cohort

by Nick Gisburne

Said the frog to the fatherless flies
“You may see me with multiple eyes
But the length of my lick
And the force of its flick
Are a warning to say your goodbyes”

There is something I wanted to say
I am outing myself – I am gay
It’s my certain belief
I will find no relief
If my nature is hidden away

In my heart grows a terrible pain
I am faltering under the strain
The unbearable cost
For the love I have lost
Is the memory burning my brain

I have found an incredible power
From its menace the cosmos shall cower
But I’m lost in the game
And my life is so lame
I am fearful of taking a shower

I am waiting to see who comes by
For I’m lonely and think I shall cry
If a visitor calls
To these desolate halls
I will give him a poke in the eye

There are witches lined up in the street
All the covens have gathered to meet
But the virus is here
So the guidance is clear
Leave a space of three wands, or six feet

Idle questions cavort in my head
Are tomatoes in darkness still red?
Will the sun ever freeze?
Can a crocodile sneeze?
Are the bodies still locked in the shed?

To a city of spectres and shade
Came the mythical blood master’s blade
To the beast it was sold
For a grave filled with gold
Which was quite a lot more than I paid

Where the butterflies dance on the breeze
And the fairy lights flash in the trees
I was led to this land
When an elf took my hand
But he burst when I gave him a squeeze

She is winsome and wondrous and fair
There are flowers entwined in her hair
But this delicate lass
Has a problem with gas
Pushing poisonous pongs in the air

Sunday 12 April 2020

A Legion of Limericks: Second Cohort

by Nick Gisburne

We had only just boarded the ship
When the cabin crew started to strip
On our naturist cruise
There were marvellous views
But the service charge spoiled the whole trip

As the god of fertility stood
He extended an old piece of wood
Something carved by his tribe
Which I cannot describe
Well I can, but I don’t think I should

They were trying to claw through the gate
To resist their attack was my fate
Devils gnashing their teeth
Demons drooling beneath
It’s the thing about teaching I hate

This is Jesus, burned into my toast
He’s the genuine, son-of-God ghost
And my promise to you:
I can prove it’s all true
If you send me your cash in the post

On a voyage to visit the moon
For a weekend vacation in June
We were lost in the night
Left at Saturn, not right
Now we’re landing on Venus at noon

After chasing a furious bee
I am stuck at the top of a tree
Not a bumble in sight
And I may be all night
So I hope that I don’t need to pee

I’ve been trapped in this tree overnight
With a bee keeper, keen for a fight
“All my bees have been found
Swimming backstroke or drowned
And the hives are now yellow, not white”

To the mermaid who lives on a rock
Winter weather is always a shock
So she warms up her skin
Drinking octopus gin
And her tail wears a fishing net sock

To the bon vivant, soul-sucking beast
Bands of gastronomes offer a feast
As an entrée, to start
Spicy, still-beating heart
And a buffet of bodies, deceased

When the Grim Reaper’s daughter wore white
She defended her death-driven right
“Black is dreary and dim
And the hooded cloak? Grim!
Look at me, Dad – an angel of light!”

Saturday 11 April 2020

A Legion of Limericks: First Cohort

by Nick Gisburne

To the zoo came a curious fox
Who arrived after tea, in a box
“Though my cousins are red
I’m impeccably bred
And as black as a coal miner’s socks”

Mourned a sad and lugubrious spider
“How I wish that the plug hole was wider
For it seems that the path
From this slippery bath
Isn’t obvious to an insider”

All the medical minds were desirous
Of a cure for the hideous virus
But the politics came
And diverted the blame
From the leaders who failed to inspire us

When the chieftain abandoned the hunt
The objections which followed were blunt
“We have nothing to eat!”
“We will starve without meat!”
And the loudest of all: “What a conundrum!”

In the garden of wonderful flowers
I would spend many magical hours
But the peace became strained
When the neighbours complained
“Get back over the fence – this is ours!”

In the summer the vampires of old
Serve their victims on ice it is told
Though the blood is quite pink
It’s refreshing to drink
And it tingles the teeth with the cold

The enchantment required for a curse
Was mistaken and missing a verse
Through the darkest of arts
Came a pain to his parts
On the bright side, it could have been worse

A devotion to darkness and death
Is a menace more monstrous than meth
Sorrow sickens the soul
Harms the heart with a hole
And no bloodshed will banish bad breath

All the Easter egg makers were stressed
For their foil-covered treats they were pressed
They worked into the night
And production was tight
But the chickens were trying their best

On the night of unspeakable sins
Where the dead come alive in their skins
Though the zombies gave chase
Bringing fear to my face
I remembered to empty the bins

Friday 10 April 2020

A Breach of Etiquette

by Nick Gisburne

Society has always passed him by
A lavish game in which he plays no part
His name provokes a smile, but soon a sigh
“Agreeable,” they say, “but not too smart”
The bottle, almost empty, fills his hand
Still wary of discovery, he drinks
Politeness turns its face from what is planned
But he has ceased to care what this world thinks
He pushes through the ranks to take his place
The well-groomed lords and ladies step aside
The father leads his daughter in her lace
But he, voracious, leaps upon the bride
    He rips the heart, still beating, from her chest
    A vulgar breach of etiquette at best

No More

by Nick Gisburne

I will not be a punch bag for your rage.
I will not wear the bruises of your spite.
You will not keep me locked inside your cage.
You do not have the reason or the right.
‘Enough’ is not a word you understand.
The ‘stop’ in ‘please stop hurting me’ is real.
I will not fear to fall beneath your hand.
I will not cry or beg or plead or kneel.
You hid me in this room and closed the door,
To make my world as small as it could be,
But this is when I say the words ‘no more’.
The only one who’s talking now is me.
    ‘I never meant to hurt you’ was a lie.
    Remember it, and suffer, as you die.

Thursday 9 April 2020

Lazy Days

by Nick Gisburne

I watch the sunrise drift beyond the dawn
There is no peace so heavenly as this
A state of sweet serenity is born
A lazy day of unrelenting bliss
The pace of change is perfect: slow to none
No task may tear my thoughts away from sleep
No burden, nothing waiting to be done
A sea of lazy daydreams, warm and deep
I think I may be here for quite a while
I cannot find the will to move at all
If laziness is coming into style
It seems I am completely in its thrall
    Perhaps these lazy feelings fill my head
    Because they must remind me I am dead


by Nick Gisburne

She snatches sleeping infants from their beds
The perfect sons, the daughters, sweet and pure
She brands a witch’s hex into their heads
And claims a scissored finger to be sure
Each stolen child is chained within a cave
To dig for threads of magic in the dirt
The darkness is their life, it is their grave
A world of boundless misery and hurt
But in each tiny crib there lies a curse
A changeling child, a sick and spiteful ghoul
A spirit, stained with all that is perverse
A rotten seed, a creature, cold and cruel
    The changelings spread their sorrow as they grow
    They breathe their evil nearer than you know

Monday 6 April 2020

Goodbye Forever

by Nick Gisburne

Goodbye forever, you sack of old shit
Spare me the whining, I’m weary of it
Find a new future, but lose your old face
Waste your existence in some other place
Never come knocking, whatever the year
Always know where you are welcome: not here
Sail through a storm and jump over the side
Bury your dreams in the dirt where they died
Never look back, you will never be missed
As of this moment you do not exist
Try not to look like a loser. Too late
Choke on these two middle fingers of hate
    This is forever and this is goodbye
    No second chances, just fuck off and die

Magical Marmalade

by Nick Gisburne

A trove of orange treasure, pure and priceless
Hot sunshine keeps each fruity farmer paid
No taste can supersede such flawless flavour
The tempting tang of farmer marmalade

A bear who left Peru became so famous
We still forget that every llama stayed
Their secret of success is sweet and simple
A luscious lunch of llama marmalade

When Henry fought at Agincourt for freedom
His knights all kneeled and in their armour prayed
The French, defeated, cursed his lethal longbows
And mighty English armour marmalade

An ancient undertaker’s young assistant
Enjoyed the much maligned embalmer trade
He phased out foul formaldehyde forever
Preferring now embalmer marmalade

In India when Vishnu joined with Shiva
They travelled to the temple Brahma made
And pushed between the pages of the Vedas
The recipe for Brahma marmalade

If laundering your linens leads to losses
If patterns on your pink pyjamas fade
If soaks in soap seem such a stale solution
Try scrubbing with pyjama marmalade

The Japanese discovered something special
A coffin, carved from Yokohama jade
Inside were not the relics of a ruler
But chunks of Yokohama marmalade

When Wyatt Earp played poker down in Tombstone
He shot a man who tried to palm a spade
The bullet bounced and missed its tricky target
Deflected by the palmer’s marmalade

A serpent slowly slithered from a basket
While swaying to the chant the charmer played
The secret of this mesmerising snake show
A belly full of charmer marmalade

When Shakespeare scripted scenes with strong emotion
If critics panned the way the drama played
The Bard would add a sticky stage direction
To ‘Exit holding drama marmalade’

Your tongue should never tangle with temptation
Be mindful not to throw your karma shade
Some orange imitations may be cheaper
But one day you’ll find karma gives you jam

Sunday 5 April 2020

Troll Food

by Nick Gisburne

I love the taste of humans with my tea
The smaller, fresher specimens are best
A stew with toddler dumplings, two or three
The softness makes them easy to digest
If I could choose a fine and fragrant dish
A fricassee of children springs to mind
Such dining is a troll’s undying wish
My larder holds a medley of mankind
As winter fades my appetites have grown
The smell of meaty humans fills the air
The flavour as they sizzle on the stone
Is more than any greedy troll could bear
    I think I’ll wander out there for a meal
    Hot tea, with teens on toast, that sounds ideal

Chasing the Dream

by Nick Gisburne

He found the feather drifting on the breeze
The rarest and most beautiful of things
And looking to the forest, through the trees
He spied a fleeting flash of angel wings
Enthralled, he climbed to reach that lofty perch
Imagining what wonders could be there
But far away, atop a tiny church
The angel, resting, bowed its head in prayer
He chased the dream for long, relentless days
But now, at last, it soared across the sea
And as the sun released its final rays
He wept for what he knew could never be
    His soul could only ache and count the cost
    The angel and the feather, both, were lost

Saturday 4 April 2020

Twisted Nursery Tales

by Nick Gisburne

Little Jack Horner
Sat in a corner
And died

Jack and Jill went up the hill
In a suicide pact

Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town
Up stairs and down stairs in his night-gown
Ten year sentence and registered as a sex offender

Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn
At your sister’s funeral

London Bridge is falling down
Another poorly managed government project becomes a drain on the public finances

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
No I’m not

Sing a song of sixpence
Or move to where there is a decent minimum wage

Mary had a little lamb
For dinner

Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop
Eaten by bears

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do
Until she remembered the gun shop was still open

Who killed Cock Robin?
I, said the Sparrow
But rescinded his confession under advisement from his legal representatives

Oh, the grand old Duke of York
He had ten thousand men
Without a condom

Friday 3 April 2020

Government Guidelines: COVID-XL

by Nick Gisburne

The fever finds a home in every throat
It claws and clings to each infected lung
The eyes begin to bleed, the organs bloat
The sinews of the limbs become unstrung
The skin is soon a loose and leprous bag
Infection starts to gather in its folds
Each tortured breath a shallow, gasping drag
The torso crusts with decomposing moulds
The viscera, distended, stretch and tear
Their septic fluids thicken with decay
The brain boils in a sludge of bone and hair
The heart pumps what is left of life away
    If symptomatic you will not survive
    Be ready when the cleansing crews arrive

The Cure

by Nick Gisburne

Act I – The Curse

The peaceful days relieved her stricken soul
But rest was all too fleeting, hard to find
Her troubled spirit faded, far from whole
The scattered pieces captive in her mind
The changes could be subtle, slow at first
A word, confused, misspoken, out of place
But in my heart I always feared the worst
And so it came, with devastating pace
I cried the day she asked me for my name
She wondered where the man she loved could be
Through bitter tears I shouldered all the blame
And searched to find a way to set her free
Her eyes saw only strangers, only fear
I swore this curse would somehow disappear

Act II – The Cure

His treatments were unorthodox, unknown
He claimed to have the antidote, the cure
What choice was there but this and this alone?
How long without her mind could she endure?
Her memories were trapped, he said, not lost
Each precious moment locked and sealed within
The chance to see her smile eclipsed the cost
I paid the price and begged him to begin
The medicine would break these secret locks
Until her mind remembered what she knew
Each stolen thought, released from every box
Would surface as her recollections grew
I longed for her, for life to be the same
To feel her take my hand and say my name

Act III – The Cured

A marvel, nay, a miracle, took place
My dreams, my wildest wishes, came to pass
She looked and smiled and recognised my face
As if a lamp light glimmered through its glass
In seven days her mind had been restored
We sang, we danced, we seized the joys of life
Her smile a priceless gift, my true reward
The one true love returned to me, my wife
We laughed as she recalled what I forgot
The healing more effective than we knew
My thoughts were sometimes hazy; hers were not
Her store of once-forgotten treasures grew
The locks fell from all corners of her mind
A cure so strong no thought was left behind

Act IV – The Cancer

The bonds were broken, more and more each day
But now there crawled a cancer with the cure
Some thoughts and dreams are better locked away
The pain of them too awful to endure
She soon remembered all she’d ever said
Old agonies, long buried, put to rest
Her darkest demons, screaming, filled her head
By each unwanted thought she was possessed
The chains of all she was and all she knew
Became a burden far too fierce to bear
No love or laughter now could filter through
Her mind was black and burned beyond repair
The cure became the source of all her pain
Her thoughts, unfettered, drove her soul insane

Act V – The Cost

I pound the loathsome medicines to dust
Yet know the hurt, the torment, will not fade
I look upon my efforts with disgust
A selfish fool, a loving trust betrayed
She lies sedated, locked inside her cell
The tight restraints, the padding on the walls
My vanity condemned her mind to Hell
Yet somewhere, in my heart, a duty calls
I hold the key to this, her prison door
A final lock now keeps me from her side
Till death: the vows we took, the oaths we swore
A bond which only madness could divide
We share the poison, share a final breath
The cure, the only true release, is death

Thursday 2 April 2020

Twinkle Black Sheep

by Nick Gisburne

Twinkle, twinkle, little star
How I wonder what you are

I’m a star
Any more stupid questions?

Baa, baa, black sheep
Have you any wool?

Face palm

Wednesday 1 April 2020

The Summoning of Shadows

by Nick Gisburne

Prepare the incense, grinding soil with spice
Touch secret, sacred symbols to the skin
Bind herbs with salt and sulphur, turning twice
Release the ancient energies within
Set candles at each pentagrammic point
Arrange the crystals, each to trace its twin
With burning oils, the circle now anoint
The summoning of shadows may begin
Let bones of divination all be cast
To satisfy the spirits in their realm
Bring forth the spectral shadows of the past
With crowns of twisted willow, ash and elm
    And should these shadows burn the heavens black
    Return the spells to get your money back

Bodies in the Sand

by Nick Gisburne

She walks among the bodies in the sand
Their lifeless eyes will never see the dawn
She wipes the knife blade, turns it in the hand
And scans the bloody battlefield with scorn
She gathers golden treasures for her bag
And cuts away their talismans of luck
She spits upon the filthy, fallen flag
And slashes it to ribbons in the muck
Their ships are twisted skeletons of coal
Black cinders stain the waters of the sea
And all to raise their banner on a pole
To claim the land she knows was always free
    She does not doubt they will, some day, return
    She wonders who will live and who will burn